The media was allowed to observe three, five-minute sessions during warm ups. The Tigers were dressed in helmets and shoulder/thigh pads.
The defensive line worked out without much of their unit. Rahim Alem, Pep Levingston, Akiem Hicks and Lavar Edwards were all missing from action. Levingston was in attendance in street clothes and had his hand heavily taped, while Hicks’ ankle injury continued to keep him out.
This gave me a chance to get an eye on some of the younger defensive ends, primarily Mike Brockers, Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan. Brockers continued to impress with his power, and coach Joe Robinson even made a point to pull Brockers back from the end of the line, saying “This guy needs more reps. Stay in here and get more.”
The tackles on hand were Drake Nevis, Al Woods, Charles Alexander, Josh Downs and Chris Davenport. Davenport and Downs both drew praise from head coach Les Miles during a media session earlier this week, and both freshman appear to be making strides each week. Downs is on the small side, so I would expect that Davenport could see playing time first. Yet, with Hicks out for now, Alexander is still the first option behind Nevis and Woods.
The defensive backs worked on stripping the ball before they moved into personnel work.
When the defensive unit joined together, the first unit that went out showed a dime alignment. Karnell Hatcher was the strong safety and Chad Jones the free safety, with Patrick Peterson and Chris Hawkins at cornerback. Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley were the linebackers on the field, with Harry Coleman and Danny McCray lined up as the nickel and dime backs. Linebacker Jacob Cutrera missed practice once again.
The offensive players of note that were missing were Richard Dickson, Tyler Edwards, Richard Murphy, Carneal Ainsworth and Clay Spencer. R.J. Jackson was the lone Tiger in green.
The running backs worked on strip drills similar to the defensive backs, while the quarterbacks and receivers worked on 15-20 yard routes. During this drill, Jordan Jefferson looked on point. Yet, when the drill turned into a ten-yard comeback, freshman Chris Garrett blew everyone out of the water. The zip on his balls is perfect, and everything hits the right spot in the right time. What I really love is his throwing motion, which is very, very quick on the release. The one thing I don’t like about Jefferson is his throwing motion, which is often a very long, delayed release (similar to Rohan Davey). Of course, if it gets there without a problem, I guess I have no qualms. It was just something to note.
Of the receivers, Brandon LaFell, Terrance Toliver and Rueben Randle continue to separate themselves from the pack. They are tall and lean with hands like a glove, which gives the young Tiger quarterbacks some room for error. When Russell Shepard joined the group, he moved above Chris Mitchell as the most impressive slot threat.